Why does God thus send His word to fallen men who are dead in sins? Why does He describe what I am by His grace if I am to find only disparity between myself and His description? Can a dead man repent? Can a natural man believe? Can an unbeliever love? Can I, who am carnal, sold under sin (Rom. 7:14), bear fruit to God? Can I know in my experience what this means, “Sin shall not have dominion over you?” Why is there this yawning gap between the word of God and myself?
I believe the answer is this: It is the trying of our faith, which is much more precious than gold that perishes (1 Peter 1:7). If grace teaches us anything, it teaches us to be honest. Grace is only given to the needy. What good is it if I can only pretend to be what God says is certainly true? I cry out, “Lord! save me!”
In all of the ebb and flow of life, truly, we are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time" (1 Peter 1:5). Were it not for the almighty power of our sovereign Savior, we would be irrecoverably lost. But with each inrush into our souls of guilt, shame, sadness, fear, trouble and grief; there is an outflow from God’s Spirit in the Gospel of comfort, confidence, hope and joy. And this is from the throne of God as He strengthens and renews our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is in Christ. It was accomplished by Him. It will be brought to the end He designed and determined before the world began, and promised in His word. This “outflow” is provided with each “inrush” of trouble, fear and doubt. As the seemingly endless volume and unstoppable force of the ocean threatens the land with each micro surge of waves, even so, our hearts seem to continually experience the threatenings of sin as unbelief assaults our conscience and threatens our peace with God. Yet with each threat we experience, we have the reassurance that comes repeatedly again and again from the Word of God in the Gospel. What is our comfort? It is Christ and Him crucified (Rom. 8:34)! The work of grace points our eyes to Christ alone in the trials of our soul (Rom. 5:1-10). We are reminded and strengthened through repeated seasons of growth that all of our goodness, all of our obedience, all of our acceptance, all of our coming, all of our standing, all of our assurance and all of our expectation is in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself alone. It is Him and His work, not me and my work (Eph. 2:10). It is Him and His worth, not me and my worth. It is His blood and His obedience, not my experience of faith that is my confidence. As with the proud waves of the ocean, it is what God says about Him that commands all threatenings of my soul to subside and prevents them from going any further. It is what God thinks of Christ that determines the boundaries of sin and death and hell and the world that would otherwise engulf and overflow my soul. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” This is my only confidence. “Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation!” (Psalm 35:3).
In these seemingly endless cycles in God’s working in our lives, we see the faithfulness of our Savior! O, what an all-sufficient grace! O, what a perfect righteousness! O, what an all-wise God! O, what power to keep back those things which, in light of all that we are, would quickly overwhelm and engulf us in destruction. But in each ebb and flow, we are strengthened by looking to Jesus again, with renewed joy and confidence and hope and love, because in looking we find that He is our all! All that Christ is, He is to God for us. All that God is, He is to us in Christ. God has met our every need in Him. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. As Author, He is the object of our faith and it is He who gives us faith to see and embrace Him. As the Finisher, He perfects our faith and will present us perfect, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing in Himself (Eph. 5:25). What we will be, we are now before Him (1 John 4:17). It is faith that enables us to live in the truth -- not the pretense -- of future realities (Romans 4:17). O precious faith! (2 Peter 1:1). Because of grace, we walk by faith in the word of God, and in so walking, we struggle and strive mightily against sin, and long to know and love our Savior in truth. But we never take confidence in our obedience. Rather, we ascribe all merit to Him. “It is God who is at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25).